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April 27, 2020


In April 1967, Kenneth Goodman presented his landmark paper at the American Educational Research Association.  ‘Reading: A Psycholinguistic Guessing Game’ (Goodman, 1967) was the culmination of five years of research and took the world of reading instruction by storm.  It has been reprinted in eight anthologies, is his most widely cited work and stimulated myriad of research into similar models of reading.  The aftershocks for...

April 27, 2020

The word method of teaching reading dominated instruction methods for a century with its word lists and flash cards and repeated vocabulary and culminated in the seemingly rational mutation into Goodman’s (1971) whole language approach.  It was only the glaring, incontrovertible fact that the millions of children taught by this method were unable to read that finally brought this edifice crashing down – 60% of Californian nine a...

April 27, 2020

However, confused and ineffective the teaching of reading had become in the United States in the nineteenth century, at least there was national debate, rudimentary research and a desire to find the pedagogical El Dorado.  No such national debate occurred in Britain at this time. The enlightenment experiment of the United States that saw a well-educated and literate populace as a fundamental driver of democra...

April 27, 2020

‘It is not perhaps, very important that a child know the letters before he begins to read.  It may learn first to read words by seeing them, hearing them pronounced, and having their meanings illustrated, and afterwards it may learn to analyse them or name the letters of which they are composed.’  Thus, wrote Worcester in 1828.  These words, so prescient in terms of the direction that English reading instruction would take in Am...

April 27, 2020

If in England, the development of a system of teaching reading to the masses was a historic catalogue of failure then in America, the situation was no different.  Similarly driven by the Lutheran revolution which demanded access to sacred texts and was further intensified by feelings of persecution after the exodus from the intolerance of the old world, the conflation of reading instruction with religious ideology was even more...

April 27, 2020

The worrying levels of illiteracy in England has its roots in a system of teaching reading that was heavily biased against the masses; a flawed system that still has hold and resonates in schools today. 

Since Quintilian instruction, the alphabet had been the starting point for reading tuition and the learning of the letters, a crucial foundation of that instruction (Graham and Kelly, 2015).  This alphabetic m...

April 5, 2020

Pressley and Afflerbach’s (1995) assertion that comprehension was a moment by moment process affected by complex interactions influenced by numerous factors led to concerns around strategies instruction.  There was a growing recognition that reading comprehension was a more context-sensitive and dynamic process that required a more flexible approach and a more complex view of teaching rather than the accepted strategy-based appr...

March 31, 2020

The eventual decline of the Roman empire resulted in a waning of the dominance of Latin across Europe as it retreated to Rome along with its armies, its legislators and its administrators.  Local, tribal languages that had been submerged but not overwhelmed by the Roman tongue were free to re-emerge, expand and dilute the dominance of Latin (Crystal, 1995). 

Their time in the sun was, nonetheless, short-lived. The retreat of...

March 31, 2020

The teaching of the skills to decipher ‘the small, black marks on white paper,’ (Dehaene, 2009, p1) that in objective combinations form written communication and assign meaningful and accurate language to them has troubled pedagogues since the inception of early writing.  Five thousand years later, modern day teachers are in the enviable position of having far greater understanding of the pedagogical and cognitive progression th...

March 31, 2020

Information processing theory attempts to articulate the unobservable through models that illustrate a cognitive-processing perspective on the processing, storage and retrieval of information (Tracey and Morrow, 2012).  It is vital to the understanding of the process of learning to read and being taught to read because implicit in the theory is the understanding that any cognitive activity has a process associated with it.  The...

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